Our generation is called “The Sandwich Generation”, for the implied dual responsibilities of rearing children and caring for aging parents. I had not pursued the former, and accepted the later as an eventual duty of a son for parents. If you read my last post, you know now that’s going. Then my nephew’s wife called up. She had to work and their 3 year-old daughter could not go to day care. Sure, we’ll take her for the day.
Here’s how I do the numbers: starting parenting of a 3 year-old when you are 58 and never reared children is not such a good idea. And if we divide my parents’ mean age, 87, by a 3 year old, that gives you a 29 hour day. Yeah, my readers who have had the honor of rearing children are nodding their heads (I’m not sure if that is in agreement with my math, or with a wry smile of “that’ll teach you”).
So, today I got up at 4:45 a.m. to get ready, or at least have more coffee. Breakfast with Mom was followed by sitting with Dad while he ate breakfast. He even correctly recalled my name and the state in which I live. We’re rocking today.
When I walked in the door at home, I was immediately in the middle of the toy box and time to put a puzzle together with my great-niece (or whatever the correct familial designation might be). Mom had not showered or dressed yet, so I told her relief was here while she took some self-time.
We were doing well naming animals until the pine cone came out of the toy box and got hurled across the kitchen into the dinning room. “No throwing toys”. That was followed by the light-up ball. Okay, time to intervene with pillow-fort building (nothing like calming a 3 year-old down like containing them in a hiding place). Peace reigned in the kingdom for about 10 minutes.
About 11, we headed off to the park, stopping at various neighbors’ homes to check out the Halloween decorations, especially ghosts. The sand box dominated the park time. Sand in buckets, sand in play cooking pots, sand on feet and hands, sand in hair. Hey, there’s sand in my shoes. I watched the various mothers and au pairs playing with their toddlers and conversing in a variety of languages. An older woman sat on a bench, watching us.
At noon, they began to pick up the toys, blankets, and children. One of the au pairs asked me to talk to the older women, whom she thought was confused and possibly lost. I stepped in and chatted with the woman. She acknowledged that she lived close enough to walk to the park, but did not know how to get home. Fortunately, he had an identification card with her address. I offered to walk her home, which was a couple of blocks away.
As we approached her apartment complex, she began to recognize the gardens and swimming pool. She had keys which she used to open her mail box to verify that she was in the right place. I waited until she unlocked her door, at which time her daughter, probably my age, came out to greet us and thank me for bringing her mother home. She stated that she usually sat on a bench in a different part of the park, thus being near the sand box was not a location from which she was used to returning home.
When I returned to the park, my mother and grand-niece were gone. I did not need long to find them on their way home for lunch. Time to nap, eat, and wash all that sand (and peanut butter off). After the shower, she came out of the bedroom with a hair brush sticking straight out from her right side of head. She had grabbed it and gave it a twirl in her light, long hair. Is this typical for 3 year-olds? She was patient for about 10 minutes while I figured out how to gently pull this and that strand of hair from around each other and the bristles of the brush. Good thing that I have had to get bailing twine untangled from goats. In fact, keeping a 3 year-old busy is about as adventuresome as keeping goats in a field.
Meanwhile, the dinner hour with Dad was coming up. When I returned home after dinner, her mother had returned form work and was collecting bags of clothes, toys, etc. Peace would return to the home.